Senator John Cornyn, a Republican up for re-election in November, is under fire from voices from the left-leaning media for correctly identifying the coronavirus’s origin. I suppose it shouldn’t be, but it is surprising the lengths some on the left are willing to go to criticize others during a time of crisis. Take, for instance, the reaction in the media when a public figure dares to call the COVID-19 virus as anything other than that.
Where did the coronavirus originate? It originated in Wuhan, China. A logical tag for it, in the beginning, was “the Wuhan coronavirus”. It was also logical to call it the “Chinese coronavirus”. Both labels specifically refer to the location where the virus began. All of the regular cable and network news anchors referred to the virus in the same terms.
Here is a solid 2 minute, 7-second montage of video clips of our betters in the media (h/t MRCTV) calling COVID-19 “the Wuhan virus”, and the “Chinese coronavirus virus”.
See, all the cool kids did it. Now, though, as some continue to note the origin of the coronavirus in its name, it’s racist, or xenophobic to do so. It’s the same virus. The descriptive label is the same. The only difference now is that in the midst of a global pandemic, the left chooses to play politics. So much for all that unity and pulling together, country over politics, right? In the clip above, late-night show host Samantha Bee calls it a “dog whistle” and a pundit blames xenophobic thoughts from a Trump adviser on immigration.
Senator Cornyn, during a weekly conference call with Texas reporters, dared to say that Chinese culture plays a role in the pandemic’s origin. Cornyn pointed a finger at open markets in particular.
“It’s no coincidence that China has’ been the source of most of these contagions breaking out — SARS, MERS swine flu — because of some of the cultural practices there,” Cornyn said. “These open meat markets that serve everything from bats to tapirs to snake to dog meat and some of these viruses that have previously been only in animals, have then jumped to human beings and create this particular outbreak, and that’s a very serious problem that we need to address in addition to this supply chain or maybe the supply chain is part of that.”
Cornyn made much the same point in another interview with reporters Wednesday, a video of which was tweeted by The Hill newspaper.
Sen. John Cornyn: "China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that, these viruses are transmitted from the animal to the people and that's why China has been the source of a lot of these viruses like SARS, like MERS, the Swine Flu." pic.twitter.com/N4TIlGFqAL
— The Hill (@thehill) March 18, 2020
That kind of candid response is “not helpful” and “dangerous”, according to the American-Statesman editorial board.
Sen. John Cornyn asserted Wednesday that “China is to blame” for the coronavirus outbreak because of its “culture where people eat bats and snakes and dogs and things like that.” Just like that, Texas’ senior senator blamed a nation of 1.4 billion people for a pathogen that likely originated in one meat market.
As if the United States and other countries haven’t had their own episodes of salmonella, E. coli or other outbreaks from mishandled food. As if Texans don’t eat snakes, frogs, alligators and other meats that might strike others as unsavory.
“Wet markets”, though, are not prevalent in the United States. A wet market is where the virus was traced back to, wasn’t it? Yes, other coronaviruses have come from other areas but in this case, it is factual to say it comes from China. The Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce weighed in, too.
“Calling it the Chinese virus targets the Chinese-American community and then the broader Asian-American community, because no one can tell us apart, quite frankly,” Marina Ong Bhargava, the CEO of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce, told us. “People get laid off and there’s fear. If we use this term, then our community is going to be targeted.”
Mostly the op-ed is a vehicle to smack President Trump. He uses “reckless rhetoric”, you know. After praising past efforts in a national crisis, like President Bush’s to the terror attacks of 9/11/01, Trump is taken to task in throwaway lines about “administration failures” and referencing the debunked talking point that Trump disbanded the pandemic panel of experts. It’s ok to blame others while taking Cornyn to task for being honest, I guess.
Instead, in recent days, President Donald Trump has eschewed the internationally recognized terms of coronavirus and COVID-19 for his preferred term: “the Chinese virus.” Trump is nothing if not a master of branding, his words carefully chosen and relentlessly repeated to drive home a message. The president is trying to paper over his administration’s failures — disbanding a key team of global health experts in 2018 and failing to ramp up production of coronavirus test kits, among other things — by blaming the disease on a foreign country. It aligns with Trump’s toxic worldview blaming immigrants and foreign countries for an array of America’s problems.
The Executive editor of the Austin American-Statesman tweeted out a link to the op-ed on Sunday and the responses didn’t go the way he planned, I’m sure.
@statesman @aasviewpoints editor Juan Castillo has encouraging words for all us in these most unsettling times. "We’ve supported each other before in dire times. And we can do it again." https://t.co/WuOeNoTcGZ
— John Bridges (@JohnBridges) March 22, 2020
A couple of samples of the response from readers:
— Tom (@BoreGuru) March 22, 2020
China lied. People died.
— AmandaT_TX (@AmandaT_TX) March 22, 2020
It is what it is. Airbrushing the origins of a pandemic doesn’t help make it go away. Criticizing for the sake of criticizing political opponents isn’t bringing about the unity needed to mitigate the spread of the virus, either.